Any demand made by husband, in-laws is dowry: SC
Amit Choudhary,TNN | Mar 1, 2015, 01.14 AM IST
Supreme Court has said that any demand made by the husband or his relatives before or after the marriage would come within the definition of dowry.
NEW DELHI: Putting an end to the judicial tendency to interpret dowry in a narrow sense, the Supreme Court has said any demand made by the husband or his relatives before or after the marriage would come within the definition of dowry.
Expanding the ambit of dowry, the court overruled its earlier verdicts in which it had said that demand for money for meeting some urgent domestic expenses could not be termed as dowry demand.
A bench of Justices T S Thakur, R F Nariman and Prafulla C Pant said dowry must be given a pragmatic interpretation to fulfill the objectives of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
"Any money or property or valuable security demanded by any of the persons mentioned in Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, at or before or at any time after the marriage which is reasonably connected to the death of a married woman, would necessarily be in connection with or in relation to the marriage unless, the facts of a given case clearly and unequivocally point otherwise," it said.
Writing the judgement, Justice Nariman said dowry is a social evil practiced against the women of this country for centuries and the judiciary must give a broad interpretation so that anyone demanding dowry could be brought to justice.
"Given that the statute with which we are dealing must be given a fair, pragmatic, and common sense interpretation so as to fulfill the object sought to be achieved by Parliament, we feel that the judgment in Appasaheb's case followed by the judgment of Kulwant Singh do not state the law correctly," it said.
In Appasaheb's case, SC had given a narrow interpretation of dowry and held that a demand for money on account of some financial stringency or for meeting some urgent domestic expenses or for purchasing manure cannot be termed as a demand for dowry.
Justice Nariman also clarified that in order to book the husband or in-laws in a dowry death case, it was not necessary for dowry demand to be made immediately before the death of a woman.
"Days or months are not what is to be seen. What must be borne in mind is that the word soon does not mean immediate. A fair and pragmatic construction keeping in mind the social evil that has led to the enactment of Section 304B (dowry death) would make it clear that the expression is a relative expression. Time lags may differ from case to case. All that is necessary is that the demand for dowry should not be stale but should be the continuing cause for the death of the married woman under the section," it said.
TIMES OF INDIA